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As 9 percent unemployment plagues America this Labor Day, major unions are clashing with a Democratic administration with which they normally would march in lock step. Echoing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at least seven unions are begging the Obama administration to abandon regulations, statements and procedures that prevent jobs from being created or saved.

Several labor unions decry the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing and prospective rules, mainly designed to reduce coal emissions. These stalwarts of the liberal Left resemble capitalists who now call the EPA the Employment Prevention Agency.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Texas unit wrote the EPA June 16 on behalf of its 23,000 members. IBEW executive Jonathan Gardner warned that EPA red tape “directly would jeopardize the jobs of approximately 1,500 IBEW members working at six different power plants across the state of Texas.” Gardner argued, “The shutdown of coal-fired units without any meaningful benefit to the environment is not justified.”

This catastrophe unfolds well beyond the Lone Star state.

The 76,000-member United Mine Workers estimates that EPA-fueled power-plant closures directly could kill 54,151 jobs and indirectly destroy 197,140 others.

In an Aug. 1 letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and Commissioners John Norris and Cheryl LaFleur wrote that FERC examined “how coal-fired generating units could be impacted (sic) by EPA rules.” FERC explained that this, “informal, preliminary assessment showed 40 GW of coal-fired generating capacity ‘likely’ to retire, with another 41 GW ‘very likely’ to retire.”

If the EPA unplugs 81 gigawatts, it would dim America’s electrical capacity 8.1 percent. American Electric Power, Duke Energy and the Southern Co. – among other utilities – said these rules would force them to close coal-fired generating stations. Padlocked power plants and scarcer electricity would debilitate America’s feeble economy and further imperil workers.

R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the 720,000-member International Association of Machinists, penned a June 29 letter with Peter J. Bunce, CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, pleading with President Obama to stop slamming corporate jets.

During the severe economic downturn in 2008, ill-informed criticism of corporate jets and business aviation exacerbated the challenges facing our industry, which led to depressed new aircraft sales and jeopardized very good, high-paying jobs throughout the United States. More than 20,000 highly skilled IAM members were laid off in this industry.”

Buffenbarger and Bunce continued: “We are very concerned that the rhetoric coming from some in your administration will lead to similar economic difficulties.”

The Obama administration has not opposed the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would transport petroleum from Canada’s oil sands to Texas’ refineries. Instead, it has studied this project into paralysis. The State Department favors it, while the EPA frowns – “a process that has gone on for more than two years,” the presidents of the Plumbing and Pipefitters, Operating Engineers, Laborers International and Teamsters unions (with 2.6 million members among all four) complained last October. These labor leaders denounce this “lost ground for thousands of workers who are sitting on the sidelines of our ailing national economy.”

Do these deregulatory rumblings foreshadow the AFL-CIO’s endorsement of Rick Perry for president? Unlikely. Union officials will stick overwhelmingly with the incumbent.

Still, while 14 million Americans wish they were workers, some in Big Labor now cry “Uncle!” at Big Government.

Orange County Register, 5 September 2011